Section 8: Two Thumb Track

Bush stream Car park-Tekapo Village
73km
4 days
Resupply in Tekapo Village

Day 43: Bush stream Car park to Crooked Spur Hut (9, 5km/4hours)
We resupplied in Metven and tried to get back to the trail-head the same day but that proved a bit to ambitious. At 6pm we find ourselves stranded in Geraldine so we decide to stay the night and start fresh the next morning. On the upside: it’s nice to have a shower and eat some other veggies than dehydrated peas for a change.
The next morning the lady who runs the hostel offers us a ride to the edge of town. She works at a coffee place so we score some coffee and a muffin, a good start of the day. It’s easy enough to get from town to the turnoff but from there we have to travel 60 kilometers down a dead end road to the trail-head. But we’ve had worse. Patience is the key to successful hitchhiking and time is something we have plenty of. Eventually we make it all the way down to the trail head of the Two Thumb Track in the Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park.
From here it’s 9 kilometers to the first hut. It’s 1:30pm and we are lucky as it stops raining just as we head out. We follow the river for a while upstream and then the track climbs up a little spur  to the Crooked Spur hut. To my delight I find my bottle again that I had left at the other hut, some people carried it with them.

The peaks are shrouded in cloud

The peaks are shrouded in cloud

Day 44: Crooked Spur Hut to Royal Hut (14km/7hours)
It’s a very misty morning but the sun is trying her best to get through. At times the surrounding peaks become visible, like islands in a sea of clouds.

It's a misty start

It’s a misty start

From the hut we climb up to the saddle at 1500 meters. We have a brief window with some views before the thick cloud blanket catches up and covers the valley. It’s tricky to see the poles in the dense mist that surrounds us but we manage without getting lost. We have a short break at Stone Hut. Some hunters have left two rotting goat heads in front of the hut, that’s a good way to spoil my appetite. From there we continue to Royal Hut, accommodation fit for a prince; allegedly prince Charles stayed here as a kid. It sounds nicer then the dead goat hut. There are many river crossings but my socks are soaked anyway. They have been wet for days now and developed a whole new level of stink: It’s not just smelly feet odor, I think they are actually starting to rot…

Just as we arrive at Royal Hut it starts raining again.
DSC00221

Day 45: Rainy hut day
It’s still raining and we decide to wait it out because we are not really feeling like another day in the rain on a high saddle. Time to pull out the sudoku and hot chocolate.

Camp stream hut

Camp stream hut

Day 45: Royal Hut to Camp Stream Hut (14km/ 5, 5hours)
It rained all night and it doesn’t look like it will improve so we will have another cold and rainy day. It’s a long climb up. We can barely make out the sign that tells us we reached  Stag Saddle, at 1925 meters the highest point on the Te Araroa. Heavy clouds are all around and a strong gale urges us to keep moving. From here there are two options: follow the ridge or take the low, foul weather, route. We opt for the latter following the valley through tussock and swamp. The wet grass is very slippery and I make a few not so graceful butt slides.
Around 2:30pm we reach Camp Stream Hut where we get a fire going to warm up and try to dry the soaked clothes. A hot chocolate helps lift my spirit. I don’t think we’ve had that many bad weather days in a row before. Hopefully it clears up tomorrow.

View over the valley from Camp stream hut

View over the valley from Camp stream hut

Day 47: Camp Stream Hut to Lake Tekapo (34km, 8hours)
It’s 7:30 am when I leave the hut and its sunny! The track follows the stream for a while and then climbs up. On top there are some great views of Lake Tekapo and the snow covered peaks of the Southern Alps in the distance.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

For a while we walk parallel to the lake along the base of the Richmond Range. The trail then descents to the road and from there about 16 kilometers of road walking until Tekapo Village, but the views are very rewarding with the turquoise lake at our side most of the time.
DSC00266DSC00252We arrive in Tekapo around 4:30pm and try to check in to a hostel but unfortunately everything is fully booked so we end up freedom camping in the nearby forest. There still a lot of the afternoon left so we join the tourist stream and visit the famous Church of the Good Shepherd. It feels strange being surrounded by this many people after the relatively quite days on the trail.

View from the window of Church of the Good Shepherd of Lake Tekapo

View from the window of Church of the Good Shepherd of Lake Tekapo.  During the 10 minutes we were there, a busload of Asians pulled up and at least two wedding shoots were going on.

Doing some morning stretches the next day after a nice and cold bath in the lake.

Doing some morning stretches the next day after a nice and cold bath in the lake.

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